Why should someone believe a human being that states they have been spoken to by God or have a calling to be a Preacher or Pastor? Is that not just one person’s interpretation of the Bible and what they feel should be stated? How does one know that is the Word or the belief that if followed, and that is the chosen path of that individual, that it is not misleading, misrepresented, and will not actually be the interpretation that will provide the path to righteousness?
Signed, Questioning the Clergy
Dear Questioning -
I wish more people would ask in-depth questions like this - it tells me that they’re REALLY searching and REALLY studying and REALLY serious about the steps they’re wanting to take in their faith. Props to you. As we’ve done in the past, we’ll break these questions apart and then put them back together at the end.
You asked, “why should someone believe a human being that states they have been spoken to by God or have a calling to be a Preacher or a Pastor?” My answer would be that blind trust in their words is ill-advised. Please look at the entire picture. Words can be used for many things. Words have started love affairs. Words have started wars. Words have torn civilizations down and words have built them up. Don’t ONLY trust their words - the words MUST be followed up with consistent action. In other words, put their words to the test of their actions. A smaller book in the New Testament called 1 John addresses this VERY thing in the beginning of chapter 4. It says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world…” (emphasis mine) In other words, there will be a blindness about the faith, but there’s not a foolishness about it. Be discerning… in fact, Jesus Christ Himself told his disciples to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves That would apply to us as well. If someone comes to me telling me God has spoken to them or that they’re “called by God to be a Pastor,” I’ll be excited for them and I’ll encourage them, but I’ll FIRST compare their “hearing” or “calling” from God against what God has ALREADY SAID. I’ll compare it to the Scriptures… then I’ll watch their lives - their actions. Their words. How they carry themselves while alone and in crowds. Do they act differently depending on who’s around? Do they use empty flattery? In other words, I’ll test them. And once they’ve been proven, then I’m all for helping them fulfill the call of God on their lives… to confirm their words they’ve received from the Lord that it matches with what God already said (remember, He won’t contradict Himself).
You went on to apparently assume the person began preaching the Bible and asked if one person’s interpretation should be valued as highly as someone else’s interpretation. That’s a DEEP question that has a few levels. One of those levels has been answered in a previous question, so I would direct you here to review the beliefs that are open for discussion and the beliefs that are settled and non-negotiable. Given that you just paused in reading this to follow the link I provided and you’ve read it in its entirety, I’ll move on to add some additional Scripture (so we’re not just dealing with my opinion on the topic). A guy named Peter who followed Christ was a bit volatile early in his journey with Jesus, but after a while, evened things out and became a prolific speaker and writer about Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Since he was an eye-witness to many of Christ’s teachings and miracles, Peter carries quite a bit of weight in terms of validity. That being said, he wrote in His second letter that there’s no private interpretation of Scripture. Read more about it here. He means this - what the Bible says is what the Bible says - it will be generally and commonly accepted as valid by MANY… so when some odd-ball shows up challenging it and saying that the interpretation he’s been given is the only correct one, you should raise an eye-brow. And Peter CAN say that, because He was an eye-witness to Jesus’ words and works during His entire earthly ministry - therefore, Peter has some authority on the subject. This is why most study Bibles and commentaries have tens (or even hundreds) of editors who all confirm that what’s being said is indeed “Scriptural” (meaning, accurate and in agreement with the Bible). It’s when you get some “translations” (I use that word loosely) that have just a single person who has done the whole work of interpretation that you should steer clear of… the Bible wasn’t ever meant for any one person to have a private interpretation - in other words, understanding the Bible is NOT an exclusive right that only certain people who are “super-gifted” by God can do - the Bible is meant to be daily bread for ANYONE seeking life through Jesus Christ and Him alone.
The other questions fall in line and provide a good summary to the first two you’d asked, so let’s put this all back together. If someone shows up one day saying that what the Bible says has been COMPLETELY misinterpreted for 2,000 years, and they alone have the correct interpretation, turn away from that guy. He’s already contradicting what the Bible says, and is most likely trying to establish his own “kingdom” (build up his reputation, start his own cult, or get rich off people’s ignorance and fear). God makes it clear that there’s only one Way to reconcile with Him and be righteous, but that Way is open to ALL who believe. And because the same Guy who said He would raise from the dead after three days (and did it!!) is the same guy who said that His Church will continue on until He returns for her, we can trust that the Bible we have today is the same Bible the first church had in the first century, and the interpretation of the Truth are as solid now as they were then… but always be on guard against false teachers, because there are many of them seeking to build up their name and not Jesus’ name (which is why we need to read and study and learn and know what the Bible says - so we aren’t led astray by the fools). - Signed, Pastor Jason